This course introduces students to an understanding of literary genre, the so-called "rules of the game" or conventions governing different types or categories of creative literature. It will focus upon the popular literary genre of "the thriller," but an understanding of literary conventions gained in this course will be applicable to any kind of literature, not only popular types such as the detective novel, but more "serious" or "high-brow" works, such as dramatic tragedy or epic poetry. A secondary but important theme of the course will examine how the thriller may reflect important ways of thinking about crucial historical, cultural and political changes (the Cold War, crime and punishment, political conflict, etc.) Readings will include classic examples of the thriller, from Edgar Allan Poe (the inventor of the detective story), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes), Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond), Jorge Luis Borges, and John Le Carré to Umberto Eco. In addition to the classic literary thriller, the course will also examine how the literary conventions of the thriller are modified in cinematic adaptations. Famous American detectives from the hard-boiled detective novel (Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe) will be examined in cinematic adaptations by John Houston (The Maltese Falcon, 1941) and Howard Hawks (The Big Sleep, 1946), two works starring Humphrey Bogart. As illustrations of the cinematic treatment of the theme of espionage, the class will analyze two James Bond films: Terence Young's From Russia with Love (1963); and Martin Campbell's Goldeneye (1995). A few secondary essays will be assigned, including some very entertaining and provocative essays by Umberto Eco on James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and the postmodern novel's playful approach to the "rules of the game" in literature. Students will be asked to write three brief papers (one of which may be rewritten for an improved grade) and to take a final examination. Film screenings are scheduled during the evening, but films used in the course are readily available from local video stores.